Four Koraga families comprising 32 people, who have been living on 10 cents of land near High Point, Nanthoor, are facing the threat of eviction because of road-widening and four-lane road projects currently being taken up by the National Highways Authority of India.

However, the reason for distress is that even after living on the plot for over 80 years, they are not entitled to any compensation and they will not be rehabilitated by the district administration either, they said. This is because the land on which the Koragas have built their houses belongs to the Government, Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj said. “They are encroachers. How can they be eligible for compensation?”

When The Hindu visited the settlement, the residents produced documents showing that they had been assigned door numbers by the Mangalore City Corporation, based upon which they’ve been give voter ID cards and below-the-poverty-line ration cards. They also said that they had been paying tax for the land every year and were able to produce receipts supporting their claim.

Administrative failure

The only document that they do not possess is the “hakku patra”, which certifies ownership. Mr. Ponnuraj said that the “hakku patra” must be produced for the Koraga families to receive compensation.

On the issuing of other documents, Mr. Ponnuraj said, “That is not supposed to be done. I do not know how they managed to get these documents.”

Producing documents to support her claim, Amani (38) told The Hindu that the residents had been trying unsuccessfully to obtain title deeds for the land for over 20 years. Mr. Ponnuraj however said that the question of regularisation does not arise as the encroached land is within city limits.

Lack of development

The Integrated Tribal Development Project has been spending close to Rs. 1 crore annually for several years on the development of the Koraga people. In fact, an additional Rs. 2.25 crore has been allocated this year. However, Wednesday’s visit to the settlement revealed that all the residents here are under-employed or not employed at all. Everybody over the age of 25 is illiterate and only the young children are going to school. There is no provision even for water and electricity.

Importantly, the Koragas are supposed to be given between one and two and a half acres of land by the State Government as per the land distribution project for Dalits. Making this point, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which undertook a protest march on Wednesday against the eviction without compensation. The party has vowed to intensify their agitation if they are not compensated and rehabilitated.

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